We live in a culture that is increasingly indifferent to prayer and at times even anti-prayer. Some view God only as a genie to grant their wishes, while others run to Him only in crisis. Some believe that a sovereign God has no use for our prayers, and still more believe God either does not exist or simply has no desire to intervene in our lives. Prayer is no longer treated as a vital part of life—like the very air we breathe or the food we eat. But this great prayerlessness comes as no surprise to our Lord.
Pray or faint, pray or give in, pray or lose heart—this is the choice that confronts us daily in our society.
Christ warned His people that in the time preceding His return, many would lose their appetite for prayer. In fact, this prayerlessness is one of the clearest signs of His imminent return.
In Luke 17:20-37, Jesus foretold that most people would live for themselves in the last days, just as they did in the days of Noah and Lot. What are we to do in the face of such a dismal prognosis? Jesus then "told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up" (Luke 18:1).
To the Lord's remnant in a society blinded by self-indulgence and spiritual lethargy, Jesus is saying, "Pray and do not give up! Pray and do not grow weary!" As many fall away from Christ, our greatest need is prayer—for in this moment we are in great danger of losing heart.
At some point each of us will probably be tempted to think, "What's the use of swimming upstream and holding onto Biblical Truth?" In the midst of this temptation, Jesus encourages us to stand with Him through prayer.
Pray or faint, pray or give in, pray or lose heart—this is the choice that confronts us daily in our society. In our struggle to continue in prayer, we have a sure word of encouragement from Jesus in the parable of the persistent widow found in Luke 18:1-8. After all, we know that God is infinitely better than that unrighteous judge, and He will see that justice comes swiftly.
On the other hand, we also know we are not like the widow: helpless and nameless. God's Word says that before the foundation of the world, He chose us. He has redeemed us by the precious blood of His Son. We are His beloved children, and He is our advocate. He hears our cry!
Because of who God is and who we are to Him, we can pray with confidence, as beloved children speaking to a loving Father. We can persist in prayer with unwavering peace, trusting that God is at work even if we do not receive an immediate answer. So as you wait upon God in prayer, don't let despair set in. Instead, press on with God's promise that He is working "in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose" (Philippians 2:13).
One of our Father's deepest longings is for His children to be dependent upon Him. This is why He calls us to learn to persevere in prayer, with full assurance of who He is and the hope we have in Him. Can we then say, as Job did, that "though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (Job 13:15)? If we can learn to persist in prayer and not lose heart—even when it seems that everything around us is falling apart—then when the Son of Man comes, He will surely find faith on the earth.